A new estimation of urbanization’s contribution to the warming trend in China

Fang Wang (Lead Author), Quansheng Ge, Shaowu Wang, Qingxiang Li, Philip D. Jones

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The extent to which an urbanization effect has contributed to climate warming is under debate in China. Some previous studies have shown that the urban heat island (UHI) contribution to national warming was substantial (10%–40%). However, by considering the spatial scale of urbanization effects, this study indicates that the UHI contribution is negligible (less than 1%). Urban areas constitute only 0.7% of the whole of China. According to the proportions of urban and rural areas used in this study, the weighted urban and rural temperature averages reduced the estimated total warming trend and also reduced the estimated urban effects. Conversely, if all stations were arithmetically averaged, that is, without weighting, the total warming trend and urban effects will be overestimated as in previous studies because there are more urban stations than rural stations in China. Moreover, the urban station proportion (68%) is much higher than the urban area proportion (0.7%).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8923–8938
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number22
Early online date4 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • Heat islands
  • Surface observations
  • Time series

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